Politics and Extremism in the Age of Nation States

My theory is this – in the prevalent framework of nation-states, we divide things through the verticle axis Y. So, maybe I’m American, and you’re Russian, and that nation-state paradigm shapes how we define conflict. But in a way, this is a superficial distinction, like branding.

The more useful differentiation is functional – along the x-axis, which says one truck has more in common with another truck, and one sedan with another sedan, than a truck with a sedan, regardless of the brand.

So the real tension isn’t America v Russia per se, than it is autocratic forces v liberal movements, pragmatist v ideologues, radical elements v moderate factions, secularists v Islamists/evangelicals, etc, etc that exist in each society.

And if, as with citizenship, the choice of “brand” is largely pre-determined, then the struggle in choosing a vehicle is a more matter of truck v sedan, than it is brand A v brand B.

This, in fact, is expressed whenever a politician argues that “moderate Muslims” aren’t doing enough to reign in radical Islamists. But no argument has been put forth that “moderate” Americans have failed to do enough to overcome our version of political extremists. 

(Frequently because those fanning the broader winds of Islamophobia are themselves the American extremists and, when challenged, seek to enforce the Y-axis, by denouncing X-axis dissent as unpatriotic, lacking the virtue of loyalty)


1.  “Libtards” don’t win in times of crisis precisely because they aren’t tribal enough – the other side fights from a sense of self-preservation of us v them. While libtards talk about empathy, the other side is, well, calling them Libtards. Name-calling is nothing more than a declaration that “You and I belong to different tribes.” Liberal criticism of Conservatives tends to adopt the (accusatory, condescending, etc) formula of “you are wrong,” while the reverse just as often reveals the (reflexive) sentiment “you are different”
One triggers stronger survival instincts than the other.
2.  Nick Cohen, “Russian Treachery is Everywhere” The Guardian, January 7, 2017

 “… nationalists hate enemies in their countries more than they hate the enemies of their countries. Millions of American conservatives … voted for Donald Trump… Local hatreds, not national security, moved them. They hated Obama more than they feared Putin. They hated political correctness. They hated – not without reason – the attacks on freedom of speech. They hated rich liberals and defence lawyers…. 

“Even connoisseurs of the grotesque have had to take a deep breath and count to 10 after watching the Republican president-elect of the United States preferring the word of Julian Assange to the word of his own intelligence agencies. That Assange is cowering from rape charges in the basement of the Ecuadorian embassy, and maintaining that the same United States would persecute him if he emerged to face his accusers like an honourable man, only made the task of regaining your composure harder.”
3.  Yitzak Rabin and ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib died not because they didn’t face their enemies, but because they didn’t guard their flank from ideologues in their own party.
Anybody who doesn’t purport to be a radical, extremist, or ideologue, needs to be able to defend from not just one, but at least two fronts.


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